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Nirvana was an American punk/alternative rock band, popularly labeled as grunge, hailing from Aberdeen, Washington and operating between 1987 and 1994. While not a metal band, they play a crucial role in heavy metal history in that their simplistic and punk-derived style and modest image is considered one of the catalysts in the demise of glam metal and caused many extreme metal genres to sink back into the undergound, as the interest of the mainstream music scene and the focus of the mainstream music media abandoned metal and focused on grunge.

Despite most metal and grunge fans' rejection of Nirvana as a metal band, there were metal influences in Nirvana's music. Their blend of influences inspired this famous quote from frontman Kurt Cobain: "I think we sound like The Knack and the Bay City Rollers being molested by Black Flag and Black Sabbath."

Founded by Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic
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NIRVANA Discography

NIRVANA albums / top albums

NIRVANA Bleach album cover 3.39 | 29 ratings
Heavy Alternative Rock 1989
NIRVANA Nevermind album cover 4.05 | 86 ratings
Heavy Alternative Rock 1991
NIRVANA In Utero album cover 3.74 | 46 ratings
In Utero
Heavy Alternative Rock 1993

NIRVANA EPs & splits

NIRVANA Blew album cover 3.00 | 2 ratings
Heavy Alternative Rock 1989
NIRVANA Nirvana / Melvins album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Nirvana / Melvins
Heavy Alternative Rock 1991
NIRVANA Hormoaning album cover 3.50 | 3 ratings
Heavy Alternative Rock 1992
NIRVANA The Jesus Lizard / Nirvana album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Jesus Lizard / Nirvana
Heavy Alternative Rock 1993

NIRVANA live albums

NIRVANA MTV Unplugged In New York album cover 3.31 | 26 ratings
MTV Unplugged In New York
Non-Metal 1994
NIRVANA From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah album cover 3.50 | 9 ratings
From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah
Heavy Alternative Rock 1996
NIRVANA Live at Reading album cover 3.20 | 5 ratings
Live at Reading
Heavy Alternative Rock 2009

NIRVANA demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

NIRVANA re-issues & compilations

NIRVANA Incesticide album cover 3.66 | 16 ratings
Heavy Alternative Rock 1992
NIRVANA Singles album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
Heavy Alternative Rock 1995
NIRVANA Nirvana album cover 3.93 | 7 ratings
Heavy Alternative Rock 2002
NIRVANA With the Lights Out album cover 3.33 | 6 ratings
With the Lights Out
Heavy Alternative Rock 2004
NIRVANA Sliver: The Best of the Box album cover 1.38 | 4 ratings
Sliver: The Best of the Box
Heavy Alternative Rock 2005
NIRVANA Icon album cover 3.25 | 2 ratings
Heavy Alternative Rock 2010

NIRVANA singles (0)

NIRVANA movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
2.92 | 2 ratings
Live! Tonight! Sold Out!!
Heavy Alternative Rock 1994
.. Album Cover
4.62 | 4 ratings
Classic Albums: Nevermind
Heavy Alternative Rock 2005
.. Album Cover
4.67 | 5 ratings
MTV Unplugged In New York
Heavy Alternative Rock 2007
.. Album Cover
3.50 | 2 ratings
Live at Reading
Heavy Alternative Rock 2009


NIRVANA Incesticide

Boxset / Compilation · 1992 · Heavy Alternative Rock
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Vim Fuego
“Incesticide” is a rare thing. For a rapidly thrown together record label stop-gap, it is actually a pretty good compilation.

“Incesticide” was made up of demos, b-sides, unreleased tracks, and other extraneous material recorded between 1988 and 1991. Released a year after the revolutionary “Nevermind”, it was intended to be a high quality version of material which was already circulating in bootleg form. Geffen Records decided not to promote it heavily, in case fans suffered Nirvana burn-out. Yeah, right Geffen, so why release the fucking thing in the first place then? Despite this, it still went platinum in the US, UK, and Canada.

So why did “Incesticide” do so well? Simply put, the album includes some of the best material Nirvana ever recorded. It shows off the breadth of Nirvana’s influences and the diversity of the band’s sound. Was Kurt Cobain a misunderstood genius or an overrated junkie slacker? Who the fuck knows. He made some interesting, noisy music, then blew his brains out, and left it up to the rest of us to decide his place in history.

First song “Dive” came from a recording session for Sub Pop which was intended to be for the follow-up album to “Bleach”, and was released as the b-side to “Sliver”. Of course, we know the follow-up didn’t come out on Sub Pop, and this song would not have fit on “Nevermind” anyway, with a feel closer to “Bleach”. The song has a fatter, warmer sound than the “Nevermind” album. Like all things Cobain, the lyrics are either cryptic or nonsensical, depending on your own interpretation.

Just to get things ass backwards, “Sliver” appears after “Dive”, even though “Dive” was the b-side to this single. Anyway, “Sliver” has the most memorable hooks Nirvana ever recorded, both in the bouncy bass line and the “Grandma take me home” lyric which constituted the song’s chorus. The lyrics are trivial, but engaging, seemingly taken from a child’s point of view, remembering an evening with grandparents.

“Stain” has a rougher edge than the previous two songs. It was originally released on the “Blew” EP. It’s a shouty punk song, with a great discordant noise solo, and is basically musical simplicity itself, both catchy and compelling.

“Been A Son” is a later song, recorded for the Mark Goodier radio show for the BBC in November 1991, with "(New Wave) Polly" and "Aneurysm" coming from the same session. It has another of those trademark vocal hooks, with Cobain slurring his vocals a little.

"Turnaround", "Molly's Lips", and "Son of a Gun", were recorded in 1990 for the John Peel Show for the BBC. “Turnaround” is a Devo cover, but is a surprisingly forgettable and unlikeable song. The next two tracks are Vaselines covers, and have a seemingly happy, bouncy feel to them, despite the reasonably grim subject matter of addiction on “Molly’s Lips”.

“(New Wave) Polly” shows the band made an excellent decision by sticking with the acoustic version of the song for “Nevermind”. While not a bad song, the shock value, and raw emotion present on the acoustic version of the song are not near as striking on this version.

"Beeswax", "Downer", "Mexican Seafood", "Hairspray Queen", and "Aero Zeppelin" all came from Nirvana’s first studio demo, recorded in January 1988. These show a young but focused band, playing like their whole lives depended on it, with a feel of determination edged by desperation. It demonstrated an early incarnation of the grunge formula of mixing garage punk with classic rock and pop sensibilities, with the added ingredient of emerging slacker cynicism. “Hairspray Queen” in particular fully demonstrated the musical weirdness which could emerge from such a mix, with a simple, yet effective three note bassline from Krist Novoselic, while Cobain’s vocals vary between Bobcat Goldthwaite rant, a subterranean grumble, and a crystal clear coherence. “Aero Zeppelin” is a straighter style rock song, and is really the first time on the album things seem to drag. While quite a powerful track, it seems too safe and mainstream compared to the rest of these demo tracks.

“Big Long Now” was recorded during the “Bleach” sessions. It would not have been too far out of place on that album, but was probably too slow paced. It is a dragging dirge, and feels like trying to emerge from a deep, deep sleep, but the grip of Morpheus is not ready to let go.

Final track “Aneurysm” combines the band’s noisier aspects with a driving punk beat. Kurt Cobain’s vocals are at their raggedy, melodic best, and the song has hooks big enough to catch mako sharks.

For such a diverse collection of recordings, “Incesticide” is surprisingly coherent. At the same time, it shows the breadth of vision of a group of young musicians, led by a reluctant mouthpiece, who didn’t care for the rules of how music should be created or sound, and wrote their own rules. Then they broke them repeatedly, and the outside world came to embrace their vision. Whether the outside world ever understood that vision then or now doesn’t matter. The resulting music speaks for itself.

NIRVANA MTV Unplugged In New York

Live album · 1994 · Non-Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Vim Fuego
Don’t buy this album, now or ever.

If you do buy it, what you are hearing is Kurt Cobain slipping deep into a depressed state, while record label sycophants and music industry lackeys cheer on, hearing the ring of cash registers more than any sort of music. Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic do their best on this album to lift Kurt out of his dejected state, but everyone else in the room is basically invisible, engulfed by Cobain’s aura.

Unplugged albums are soulless, disgusting music industry creations, developed to rip any trace of edginess, creativity and spirit from artists, and to water down their music to the lowest common denominator, while at the same time maximising corporate profits. Unplugged albums are an exercise in extracting as much money as possible from the guileless music buying populace for minimal effort. Unplugged albums exploit artists and fans alike, stealing credibility from the former, and sucking money from the latter. No one should ever buy unplugged albums. If a band already plays acoustically, what’s the point? If they don’t play acoustically, the album is trying to attract new fans who are scared of a bit of amplification and noise- fairweather fans, likely to be attracted to a band for this one-off, unlikely to want to explore further. After all, if they really wanted to they would already be fans of the band.

This album is the sound of a man on the edge, being prodded ever closer to his demise by those who would profit from his creative, if slightly tormented spirit. As a live band, Nirvana were a live wire, sparking with energy and a little danger, often playing with a looseness on the verge of falling apart. Feedback, distortion and amplification were vital elements of Nirvana’s sound. Without it, Cobain sounds lost and somewhat bored.

Grohl and Novoselic knew their friend was having problems coping with life, so helped Cobain stick it to the corporate bastards in a passive aggressive way. The whole band refused to play unless Cobain’s acoustic guitar ran through an amp, which the set designers had to hide, to keep his effects. The set itself was decorated like a funeral, which now seems chillingly appropriate. Unplugged albums are generally greatest hits compilations, rather than traditional live sets, so Cobain left out most of the hits. Nirvana’s biggest hit, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” makes no appearance here, nor “Heart Shaped Box”, “Lithium”, “In Bloom”, or early singles “Love Buzz” and “Sliver”. With three albums, and numerous singles and E.P.s under their belt Nirvana should have been able to fill an album quite easily with their own material. However, there are six covers here, almost half of the album. Two members of the Meat Puppets played the show, which included three of their songs, much to the chagrin of MTV executives, who thought the Puppets weren’t a big enough “name” for the show.

And what is the music actually like? In a word, bland. But then it’s supposed to be bland, because it’s unplugged. Nirvana’s own songs are generally their lighter material, some semi-acoustic in their original form. “About A Girl” fares well, with Kurt nervously mumbling an introduction. “Come As You Are” sounds hollow, stripped of its vitality. Third track “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me For A Sunbeam” is both a downer and prophetic, dull and dead sounding. The cover of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World” has a bit more energy, gently extending a middle finger to a clueless music industry which didn’t realise it was being mocked. The next five tracks, all Nirvana originals, are somewhat lacklustre, not as good as the studio versions. The three Meat Puppets’ tracks are simple enough alternative folk/punk, and seem to give Cobain some pleasure performing them. “All Apologies” sounds like Cobain asking forgiveness for his inability to cope with the pressures of becoming the unintentional voice of a generation. Closer “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” is a traditional murder ballad, with Nirvana referencing bluesman Leadbelly’s version, and is the most convincing song on the album, where Cobain’s voice finally lifts above a mumble.

Recorded a few months before Kurt Cobain killed himself, this was released a few months after his death. This dull, lifeless cash-in version of Nirvana is a fitting requiem for the band and the man alike, reflecting what was happening in life. The vitality was squeezed from Cobain and his songs by the music industrial complex, while bleeding his soul for every last cent.

NIRVANA Nevermind

Album · 1991 · Heavy Alternative Rock
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Eeeh, I dunno guys. Maybe it's just a side effect of the band getting masses of overexposure but I never really got into the whole Nirvana thing. Don't get me wrong, Nevermind is a perfectly competent collection of commercially palatable songs complete with at least one bouncy part per song for the kids to pogo to - it's kind of a grunge take on pop-punk in that respect - I just don't see that it does anything very revolutionary or evolutionary, especially when compared to the band's influences. The gang aren't doing anything hot or exciting or new here, they're just cranking the wheel on a formulaic songwriting machine until they get enough material for an album.


Album · 1993 · Heavy Alternative Rock
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"In Utero" is the 3rd full-length studio album by US hard rock/alternative rock act Nirvana. The album was released through DGC Records in September 1993. Despite the major commercial success of "Nevermind (1991)", Nirvana felt that the album ultimately came out too polished compared to how they saw their own music and they wanted to make sure that "In Utero" sounded more raw and closer to the "punk" ideals they felt a closer relation to. They enlisted producer Steve Albini to help them gain that sound and with him they recorded the songs for "In Utero" in around two weeks time. They weren´t completely satisfied with the result though and ended up hiring Scott Litt to make a few changes to the sound.

The more primitive recording process is certainly audible as "In Utero" is a much more raw sounding album than "Nevermind (1991)". The prominent use of dissonance, feedback and other non-polished features (check out the highly aggressive and almost hardcorish track "tourette's") that you usually don´t find in accessible mainstream music, are quite the change compared to the predecessor. The songwriting is a bit uneven though and while tracks like "Hear-Shaped Box" (which was the biggest hit from the album) and "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle" are really effectful and memorable, there are far too many tracks on the album that come off a bit half-baked and honestly sound like the band didn´t care too much. I understand that it was part of the attitude in those days, but some tracks simply don´t sound as inspired as they could have.

When that is said the musicianship and especially Kurt Cobain´s vocals are for the most part a real treat. He has such a raw and personal delivery. A really unique and characteristic voice, which he explores a bit more on this album than he did on "Nevermind (1991)".

Considering the major commercial success of "Nevermind (1991)", "In Utero" is actually quite a daring and bold attempt at breaking free from a sound that most people expected from the band. 5 million copies sold arond the world bear witness to the fact that at least commercially Nirvana fully succeeded in their mission, but artistically I think "In Utero" lacks a bit although a 3.5 star (70%) rating is fully deserved.

NIRVANA Nevermind

Album · 1991 · Heavy Alternative Rock
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
"Nevermind" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US hard rock/alternative rock act Nirvana. The album was released through DGC Records (a sub label to Universal Music Group) in September 1991. Alledgedly the label expected that "Nevermind" would sell around 200.000 - 250.000 copies if it became successful, but because of the success of "Smells Like Teen Spirit", which received heavy rotation on MTV, "Nevermind" soon sold so many copies that the label´s sales stragedy for the album became completely useless. At the hight of the album´s success it sold around 300.000 copies a week. "Nevermind" has sold around 30 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best selling albums ever. There are probably a number of reasons why the album became this successful including a fatique, among fans of harder edged rock music, over the eighties glam rock/metal scene that had dominated the last decade. In the end it was probably the combination of the right timing, a good album that touched people and excellent promotion.

"Bleach (1989)" had provided the band with some minor success but main songwriter Kurt Cobain felt the need to write more melodic material and at the same time Nirvana opted to leave the Sub Pop label and sign to a major label. Producer Butch Vig gave the band´s sound enough polish for even the most hard edged punked material to have mainstream appeal. I guess "Territorial Pissings" might be the exception, but even that track, which is the most noisy track on the album is pretty sweet on the ears except the the ending of the track where Kurt Cobain screams his lungs out. The four single tracks from the album "Smells Like Teen Spirit", "Come as You Are", "Lithium" and "In Bloom" are probably the most known songs from "Nevermind" but most tracks are actually pretty noteworthy and memorable.

The songs are pretty simple vers/chorus structured, typically with subdued verses and more energetic and loud choruses, making good use of dynamics for effect. "Nevermind" is an album that successfully alternates between mellow almost drowsy sounding sections and bursts of aggressive energy. It´s also an album with a nice flow. It´s the kind of album where all the pieces seem to fit in the right places.

...after not having listened to "Nevermind" for many years, I was pretty amazed to learn that I could remember each track, vocal line and melody to perfection and I had a great time listening to the album while doing all that remembering. Often it´s only the truly great albums where you feel right at home, when putting them on and such is certainly the case with "Nevermind". It´s still an album that stands out from the crowd and a 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

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